Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' decision affirming the district court's dismissal of a physician's petition for judicial review of the Iowa Board of Medicine's decision to use a "confidential letter of warning" to impose conditions on the physician's return to the practice of medicine over his objection, without a finding of probable cause, and without judicial review, holding that the district court erred by ruling that the Board's letter was not judicially reviewable. Before the physician voluntarily ceased practicing medicine the Board had opened an investigation into the physician. The Board closed the investigation without a finding of probable cause that the physician had violated any rule or standard of practice. In its letter, the Board told the physician that if he returned to practicing medicine he must complete a comprehensive clinical competency evaluation. The physician sought judicial review, contending that the Board's letter constituted illegal agency action. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that the letter was not a disciplinary sanction subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court vacated the decision, holding that the Board's letter was subject to judicial review because the physician was aggrieved by the Board's action where he was unable to resume practicing his profession without triggering the competency evaluation. View "Irland v. Iowa Board of Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting Plaintiff's petition for mandamus and ordering the City of Ottumwa to disclose names of all persons who had and had not been issued automated traffic enforcement (ATE) citations by the City after their vehicles were detected as speeding by an ATE camera, holding that the district court erred in ordering the production of records whose disclosure was prohibited by the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, and a corresponding Iowa state law, Iowa Code 321.11. In denying the request for names, the City argued that the DPPA and section 321.11 prohibited disclosure of the requested information. The district court disagreed, concluding that the names of speed regulation violators was information on driving violations and therefore was not confidential information under the DPPA or section 321.11. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where the personal identifying information sought by Petitioner came from a vehicle registration and driver's license database, its public disclosure was presumptively prohibited under the DPPA and section 321.11. View "Milligan v. Ottumwa Police Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the O'Brien County Board of Supervisors determining that two newspapers under common ownership and published in the same city could not be combined for purposes of determining circulation because the publications were not offered for sale or delivered "in the same geographic area" under Iowa Code 349.6, holding that the district court did not err. The two newspapers at issue were the Sanborn Pioneer and the O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier, both owned by Marcus News, Inc. Marcus News and Iowa Information, Inc. both submitted applications to the Board requesting that their newspapers be selected as official county publications. The Board concluded that the two newspapers of Marcus News should not be considered as one newspaper and, as a result, did not select the publications as official newspapers for O'Brien County. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that the two publications should not be combined and considered as one publication in the same geographic area. View "Marcus News, Inc. v. O’Brien County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the revocation of a Driver's license, holding that this Court declines to overrule precedent and apply the exclusionary rule to driver's license revocation proceedings when an Iowa statute dictates otherwise. Driver in this case was pulled over by an officer with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) after he made an unauthorized use of a median crossover to turn around and head in the other direction. Driver had an open container in his car and smelled of an alcoholic beverage, but Driver was never charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI). Adhering to precedent set in Westendorf v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 400 N.W.2d 553 (Iowa 1987), and Manders v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 454 N.W.2d 364 (Iowa 1990), in which the Court declined to apply the exclusionary rule to driver's license revocation proceedings so long as the enumerated statutory conditions for license revocation were met, the DOT upheld Driver's license suspension. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the only flaw in the stop was the officer's lack of statutory authority, this Court declines to expand the legislature's post-Westendorf statutory exception and apply the exclusionary rule to all driver's license revocation proceedings if there was any problem with the stop. View "Westra v. Iowa Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the Carroll County Board of Adjustment's denial of Appellants' application for a variance from Carroll County Airport Zoning Ordinance height restrictions, holding that this Court's opinion rejecting Appellants' preemption defense in a companion case, was fatal to Appellants' appeal of the zoning variance denial. Appellants built a grain leg on their farmland that violated the zoning ordinance's height restrictions. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made a no-hazard determination. The Carroll Airport Commission disagreed with the FAA's determination and filed an equitable action to have the grain leg declared a nuisance. After Appellants unsuccessfully sought a variance, the district court entered judgment for the Commission on its nuisance claim. In both the nuisance action and the zoning appeal Appellants argued that the FAA's no-hazard determination preempted local regulations as a matter of law. The district court rejected that defense in the nuisance action. The court of appeals and Supreme Court affirmed. The district court then affirmed the Board's denial of the variance, again rejecting the preemption defense. Because the nuisance case adjudicated the same federal preemption issue Appellants raised in this preceding, the Supreme Court's opinion rejecting Appellants' preemption defense in the nuisance action was fatal to Appellants' appeal of the zoning appeal. View "Danner v. Carroll County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Petitioners' petitions for judicial review of a decision of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) approving constructing of an underground crude oil pipeline in Iowa and approving the use of eminent domain where necessary to condemn easements along the pipeline route, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. The proposed pipeline would run from western North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to an oil transportation hub in southern Illinois. After the IUB approved the construction of the pipeline Petitioners, several landowners and an environmental organization, sought judicial review. The district court denied the petitions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the IUB's weighing of benefits and costs supported its determination that the pipeline served the public convenience and necessity; (2) the pipeline was not barred by Iowa Code 6A.21 and 6A.22 from utilizing eminent domain because it was both a company under the jurisdiction of the IUB and a common carrier pipeline; (3) the use of eminent domain for a traditional public use such as an oil pipeline does not violate the Iowa Constitution or the United States Constitution; and (4) the IUB's determinations regarding two of the landowners' personal claims were supported by substantial evidence. View "Puntenney v. Iowa Utilities Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court holding that a copy of a petition for judicial review sent by email to opposing counsel failed to comply with Iowa Code 17A.19(2), which imposes a jurisdictional requirement for the petitioner in an action for judicial review to timely mail a copy of the petition to attorneys for all the parties in the case, holding that emailing between attorneys in Iowa satisfies the jurisdictional requirement of the statute. Petitioner filed a petition for judicial review after the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner issued a decision in a contested case proceeding against Loyd Ruling Construction. Loyd Roling filed a motion to dismiss the petition for judicial review, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because Petitioner's attorney did not mail the copy of the petition through the postal system until more than ten days after the petition was filed, as required by section 17A.19(2). The district court agreed and dismissed the petition, concluding that electronic mailing did not constitute substantial compliance with the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the service requirement under the statute is satisfied when a lawyer emails a copy of the petition to opposing counsel. View "Ortiz v. Loyd Roling Construction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court interpreting the 2017 amendments to Iowa Code chapter 20, the Public Employment Relations Act, limiting the mandatory subjects of collective bargaining and the matters an arbitrator may consider if the dispute enters binding arbitration, holding that the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and the district court correctly interpreted the amendments. A union sought a declaratory order from PERB and then judicial review of the declaratory order seeking to clarify certain provisions in the amendments. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming PERB's decision, holding (1) "base wages" under Iowa Code 20.9(1) means the floor level of pay for each job before upward adjustments such as for job shift or longevity; and (2) the term "past collective bargaining agreement" in the context of Iowa Code 20.22(10)(b)(1) allows an arbitrator to consider the existing collective bargaining agreement but not ones that came before. View "United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America v. Iowa Public Employment Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing this action filed by a public employee union seeking to enforce a collective bargaining agreement entered into with the Iowa Board of Regents, holding that the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) acted within its statutory authority in promulgating Iowa Admin. Code R. 621-6.5(3), which has the force of law, and that the district court correctly applied rule 621-6.5(3) to hold the parties had no enforceable collective bargaining agreement (CBA) without the Board's vote to ratify it. The Board moved for summary judgment on the union's action to enforce the CBA, relying on rule 621-6.5, which requires the Board to meet to vote to accept a tentative voluntary agreement ratified by the union before the contract becomes effective. The union argued that the agency rule was invalid because it imposed a ratification requirement not included in Iowa Code 20.17(4). The district court upheld the validity of the agency rule and dismissed the union's enforcement action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) rule 621-6.5(3) is valid; and (2) therefore, no enforceable agreement was reached without the requisite vote by the Board to approve the CBA. View "Service Employees International Union, Local 199 v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question of Iowa law by holding that, under Iowa law, a common law cause of action for bad faith failure to pay workers' compensation benefits is not available against a third-party claims administrator of a worker's compensation insurance carrier. Plaintiff, who suffered a work-related injury, filed a claim for benefits with the workers compensation commissioner. Plaintiff was denied benefits. Plaintiff later filed a bad faith action against his employer's workers' compensation carrier and its third-party administrator. The action was removed to the federal district court, and the court certified the following question to the Supreme Court: “In what circumstances, if any, can an injured employee hold a third-party claims administrator liable for the tort of bad faith for failure to pay workers’ compensation benefits?” The Supreme Court held that a third-party administrator cannot be sued for bad faith as if it were an insurer. View "De Dios v. Indemnity Insurance Co. of North America" on Justia Law